Memory Stick Speeds Explained

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Memory Stick Speeds Explained

In a few short years since the launch of the first 4Mb flash memory card, the number of flash memory cards, aka SD Cards, available for digital cameras and other devices has exploded with a number of different formats and speeds of memory card. It’s no wonder the average person is totally baffled by this plethora of memory cards.

Not only are there different shapes (the format) and sizes of memory sticks such as Secure Digital (SD) Compact Flash, Memory Stick, etc, but also different speed ratings.

Memory card speed is the card’s performance with regard to how quickly data can be transferred to or from it. The card speed is often stated in ‘Times’ ratings i.e. 12X, 40X etc (just as the speed of recordable CD’s and DVD’s is measured), and sometimes more specifically in megabytes per second (Mb/s). By today’s measure, sub 30X represents a standard speed, 30X to 60X is mid-high speed and over 66X is high speed. The chart below shows the relationship between the two figures.

8X = 1.2 Mb/sec
12X = 1.8 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 2 for SD Cards)
20X = 3.0 Mb/sec
25X = 3.8 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 4 for SD Cards)
30X = 4.5 Mb/sec
40X = 6.0 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 6 for SD Cards)
60X = 9.0 Mb/sec
66X = 10.0 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 10 for SD Cards)
80X = 12.0 Mb/sec
90X = 15.0 Mb/sec
133X = 20.0 Mb/sec

Why do we need different or higher speeds cards?
This is mainly due to the advancement of our digital devices, especially digital cameras, camcorders and music devices. As manufacturers develop higher and higher spec devices (i.e. higher resolution cameras and more intense multi-media functions), they are creating increasingly larger amounts information to store pictures, movies, music and so on. This in turn takes longer to record onto the memory card. For example if you have ever used a high megapixel camera with a standard speed card you may have noticed the time lag between pressing the shutter button and being able to take the next picture. This lag or delay, in most cases, is caused by a slow write speed. Similarly, copying your photos to your PC could take time too and is caused by a slow read speed.
So who really needs high-speed memory cards?
Professional photographers and enthusiasts using professional grade cameras such as digital SLR’s should use high-speed memory cards of at least 40X speed. If you own a camera with a megapixel rate above ten million pixels, you will certainly benefit from a card with a higher speed rating. If you’re like most of us using a compact camera under ten million pixels, you’ll get great performance from standard cards with 25X or more.

Those using digital camcorders and devices recording MP3 music or video will also benefit from higher speed cards. It used to be where very few people would actually benefit from very high-speed cards. Typically only professionals who used expensive, specialized products benefited, but it’s fast becoming a requirement on many of the latest PDA’s, Cameras, phones and other mobile devices to make use of the extra speed made available by high speed cards.

People using high speed memory cards with equipment that has been on the market a while may not notice any difference in performance, but this has more to do with the limitations of the device than the flash card itself. This is because not only does your memory card have a maximum speed rating, but your camera or mobile phone will also have its own speed rating. When these products are combined, they’ll work at the “slowest common denominator” e.g. if you use a 12X flash card in a camera with a designed for a maximum of 8X speed, you’ll be transferring data at the slower 8X speed.

You should always check the capacity of your device before splurging on mega fast cards, but determining the speed compatibility of your device can be tricky. Most manuals just don’t tell you what speed of flash card you should use, now that would be far too easy, but they do tell you to buy their brand, which isn’t much help! So a general rule of thumb, if your camera is less than three megapixels the speed rating of the flash card doesn’t matter much. Most modern cameras have the ability to support far higher speeds than the cards available to purchase today, therefore, if speed is of importance, go for a faster card. Most mobile phones are fine with standard speed cards although some newer models will benefit from higher speed cards but not generally over 60X speeds. Hope this info helps you pick your next SD Card wisely.

 


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All About Backups and Keeping Your Data Safe

There has been an increasing amount of emphasis in recent times on the subject of keeping the information on your computer safe. The terms Back-Up, Archive, Data Storage and Security being mentioned frequently, but what is all about?

In simple terms, people are increasingly holding more and more information on their computers, be it photos, personal data and finance, business data, accounts, contacts, addresses and much more.

What everyone needs to understand is that the information held on your computer is a very vulnerable entity and can be very easily and completely lost, either by component failure, malicious acts or theft. If loss of the information you keep on your computer would cause you distress, then you need to take steps to ensure it is kept safe and that you would be able to continue even if your computer was stolen.

The only definite way of safeguarding against the many different kinds of threats is to have a copy of the valuable information and keep it away from the computer, this is commonly referred to as back-up. In case of loss, the information can then be restored to a computer from the safe back-up copy. A back up consists of an exact copy of this important data, kept on a separate storage medium such as a CD / DVD or an external tape or hard disk drive.

Naturally, a back-up is only as good as the last time that you actually made a back-up copy, so it is common practice to create a new back-up frequently and overwrite the old copy. How frequently you do this depends on how often your valuable information changes, the more changes, the more frequent the back-up. A back-up can be performed manually by simply copying the data you wish to back-up to your chosen media, or the process can be automated by using specialist back-up software programmes. Back-up software allows you to select the data that needs to be backed-up, when to make the back-up and where to copy the backed-up data to, this set up can then be memorised by the back-up software. Backing-up your data then becomes a relatively quick and simple process.

Many confuse back-up with “archiving”. Archiving is where you transfer data, which is important enough to keep, but no longer required (e.g. old photos, old accounts) to an external, safe storage medium for future reference. The archived data is then removed from the computers main hard drive to free-up space.

Whether backing-up or archiving, there is a choice of media you can record your copy on to:

Recordable CD or DVD
If you have a CD or DVD recordable drive, this is a better longer-term solution with more space. The downside is that the recording process can be a pain as you cannot just drag and drop and that you need CD’s or DVD’s to record on.

This type of backup can be cumbersome, time consuming and sometimes frustrating, depending on the software and the quality of disks used.

When using this method of backup, remember to check the disk you have transferred your data to, to make sure your computer can read the disc ok in future.

USB Pen Drives
Also known by various other names USB Pen Drives are an excellent low cost solution for smaller back-up purposes being easy to use and they are also great for transferring data from one computer to another.

External USB Hard Drives
For most users the best storage solution for back-up and archiving purposes is the USB external hard drive, being reliable, easy to install (just plug in to your USB port) and easy to use (just drag and drop your files to be backed-up). USB External Hard Drives are available in pocket or desktop sizes and storage capacities from a few Gb to 250Gb + offering a huge amount of recording space. Being a plug in device they can be easily disconnected and kept separate from your computer and out of harm’s way. Some external USB Hard Drives like Iomega come packaged with back-up software too.